PCS strikers at the Pensions Regulator in Brighton recently

Nominations have opened for general secretary of the PCS union as Mark Serwotka retires. There’s a poor choice on offer.

The two candidates declared so far are Fran Heathcote, supported by the Left Unity group, and Marion Lloyd part of the Broad Left Network/Independent Left.

Heathcote is firmly associated with the strategy of the last ten months from the majority of the national executive. It has involved repeated sectional action but only very infrequent national action.

The government in response imposed a lower award even than the below-inflation deals agreed by workers in education, the NHS and other areas.

The action that has taken place in the PCS, and elsewhere, has seen new layers of people involved in the union and enthusiastic backing for action. It has revived the union.

But when proposals for escalation were put forward, as they were by Socialist Worker supporters on the national executive, the large majority voted them down.

A vote for Heathcote, however guarded, can only be seen as endorsement of the leadership’s failed approach.

This question has become a central division in the British trade union movement after the last year and a half of on-off, limited and generally non-escalating national action.

Marion Lloyd, a member of the Socialist Party, has a better position on the strikes, and supported escalation.

But, as anyone with even a short memory in the PCS knows, when the Socialist Party dominated the executive there was not a very different approach to strikes to the one during the last year.

It’s also disgraceful that Lloyd is running in tandem with John Moloney, a member of the Alliance for Workers Liberty that urges on support for Nato in the Ukraine war.

Heathcote has been better than Lloyd over campaigning for refugees.

But Lloyd has called for “unwavering support for trans rights” while some Left Unity supporters have been closer to “gender-critical” views.

What a choice.

In the end, we say it will be more likely to grow future strikes if Lloyd wins, and that is how we think PCS members should vote.

But we are not hoping that Moloney is elected.

PCS members deserve a better choice. The struggles at local and national level are the key to building that.

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